FrontlineSMS let users send, receive and manage SMS over a mobile network.

Hi everyone,

I've been reading through the forums and I'm having a difficult time finding a hardware solution for testing FLSMS in the USA.

The deployment is going to be in Nairobi and I know they have the necessary hardware/software configuration there. However, I want to set up, customize and test the system before sending it over.

I have a Macbook Pro.

My questions are this:

-- Do I need two SIM cards or one? Which carrier?

-- Where do I find a GSM modem that works?

-- How much is all this going to cost?

I think the RapidSMS system is probably easier to deploy in many respects, but it requires a lot more technical knowledge. FrontlineSMS seems much easier from a front-end perspective, but the backend is not nearly as easy as described in the initial download instructions.

Any help is appreciated.

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Hi Aaron

From our perspective, you probably have the worst combination of things here - a Mac, and a US-based one at that! Not all GSM modems have Mac drivers, so you're going to need to get around that somehow. Secondly, the US mobile landscape is much more complex than most of the world, and that makes things difficult.

The best thread by far is one you have already seen:

Wayan may be able to shed some more light onto it if you contact him through the community here. We're in the UK so don't have access to local networks in the US, so can't offer much by way of advice on Mac-supported (and unlocked) modems, and SIM cards, etc.

There are certainly people here based in the US who have got FrontlineSMS working, so hopefully one of them will spot your post and respond.

Do let us know how you get on. In short, Windows-based machines connecting through Huawei GSM modems work out-of-the-box, and this seems to be the most popular (and easiest) combination for FrontlineSMS users.


Thanks so much. I can use a Windows dev environment and I have a Huawei GSM modem from Safaricom that was brought to me from Nairobi. I'll spend some time playing with this combo, but I wasn't sure if I could actually use a Safaricom modem in the US, even with an ATT or TMobile SIM card.

I'll contact Wayan, but any other recommendations or advice is appreciated!

Hi Aaron

Assuming the Huawei modem is a GSM modem (most likely), it should work fine with AT&T and T-Mobile in the US, which are both GSM networks (Verizon is CDMA, another network type). The only condition is that the modem would need to be unlocked, i.e. allow any SIM card to be used with it. Often when modems are bought from actual operator stores (Safaricom or MTN, for example) they're configured to only run on their network. I'm not sure where you got your Huawei from, but this may be an issue. Modems can be unlocked, but you'd have to Google it.

Let us know how it goes.

Hi Aaron,

I'm based in DC and I got Frontline to work well, after a lot of reading on the forum, a lot of help from the Frontline team, and trying out a lot of different things. We have a Sierra Wireless 885 modem and got a pay-as-you-go plan from AT&T. It cost us about $150 to purchase the modem and our unlimited text plan costs about $20 a month. I've found that most phone stores will have no idea what you're talking about if you try to explain the situation, so I found it easiest to not tell them what I'm doing and just buying a SIM card like I would've used in a phone. I can give you more details on this if you'd like, let me know.
Hey Aaron,

I'm using a single T-Mobile Prepaid SIM card (picked up for like $10 plus added $10 to cover some messaging). I think you can actually get it cheaper if you order online but for time sake, I went into the store.

I purchased a 1New Option iCON 452 GSM Unlocked USB 3G Modem T Mobile on eBay ($70).

I downloaded the drivers (and the option software - but just turned it off before running FrontlineSMS) from Option's website at (you'll need to have purchased the Modem first as it will ask for the part number or IMEI before you can download)

Now the kicker was that I couldn't run it on my Mac. However, I've upgraded to Snow Leopard and to the latest FrontlineSMS and mobile phones that worked before - don't work now so I think it's something with my configuration or with how FrontlineSMS checks for ports on Snow Leopard. But that's for a different discussion thread.

That being said - I run Windows XP Pro with the latest FrontlineSMS in Parallels and it worked perfectly straight away. Had it up and working with 10 minutes.

Hope that helps.
FLSMS Rocks!

I have a new install running on new equipment that is flawless!

Modem At&T USB "Velocity" (Option 461 built it) running At&T BBservice with Text added.

The program will go into more testing in a few days and I will report back how it behaves after a few days.
Great to hear, Ed! \o/
I've had similar questions here in Canada. GSM/SIM are not common around these parts. Anyone have experience with deployments in N. America?
Hi Paul,

you should ask Josh Nesbit or Dale Zak (available on this community). They both live in North America :)
Call me at GlobalGiving - 202-232-5784. We are in the same boat and can help you. Planning to run FLSMS in Nairobi and testing it in the USA, and I have 9 months of headache experiences you can learn from.


By the way - if anyone has found a good deal on huawei GSM in USA in last 6 months - let me know. They are hard to come by.
I have just set up FL using a new "Velocity" modem (option 462) From At&T, I am using it with a Go phone prepaid sim. Unlimited texts @19.99/ month. IT is working well. So far over 5K outgoing texts during testing.

I am working on a source of refurbished option 462 modems. Reply if anyone needs help with USA based FL.
Count me in for one of these modems. If we can get intl texting for $20/mo that's a steal.

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